Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phantom Film Festival: The Creature from Black Lake

Tonight's movie was 1976's slice of Sasquatch cinema, "The Creature from Black Lake," starring Jack Elam, Dub Taylor and Dennis Fimple. I caught this for the first time years ago on a local independent station and now have it on DVD.

TCFBL is different in style and tone from its thematic cousin, "The Legend of Boggy Creek." Where "Boggy" takes a docudrama approach, "Black Lake" is purely melodramatic, resulting in a less haunting but more purely entertaining viewing experience. Many scenes are played purely for laughs, a nice counterbalance to the final act, which is mostly suspenseful.

TCFBL is the story of two college students from Chicago who take it upon themselves to investigate Bigfoot reports in Louisiana. They eventually find what they're looking for, despite running afoul of local law enforcement and offending the locals. This Sasquatch rather aggressively makes it clear that he'd rather not be found, and minor mayhem ensues.

"Black Lake" benefits from a number of good ingredients: an authentic sense of place, filmed, as it was, on location in Louisiana; plenty of pitch-perfect, scenery-chewing performances from the likes of Elam and Taylor; a believable "buddy" relationship that carries the story and the wisdom to never really show the cryptid in question. Earnest, specific, and totally unheralded, this movie is a personal favorite of mine.

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